SUNY holds regional meeting to discuss COVID containment

Jim Malatras

BUFFALO (WBEN) - On Sunday afternoon, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras held a regional meeting at the Jacobs School of Medicine to discuss how campuses are working to contain COVID-19.

Those involved in the meeting included UB President Satish Tripathi, Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner and ECC Interim President William Reuter, as well as Mayor Byron Brown and State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

"What we did today is have a meeting to talk about how we control the beast, which is COVID-19," said Malatras. "It hasn't gone anywhere yet, and we're not out of the woods yet, but I think what we're doing here, although in a new normal, can instill confidence that in the community, with our parent, with our students, with our faculty and staff, that we can remain open and safe."

According to Malatras, the presidents all agreed to increase surveillance testing, which is made possible due to new testing technology that allows for 105,000 tests per week for the SUNY system.

"It's a game changer for us," said Malatras. "It's a relatively inexpensive test - we can monitor very quickly the positive cases, and we can isolate those cases, and there's other technologies that we're using as well."

The SUNY chancellor stressed the importance of focusing on compliance and discipline when it comes to following social distancing guidelines, mask orders and minimizing large gatherings such as parties.

He also talked about transparency and how SUNY is rolling out a system-wide dashboard starting Sunday, which will be used as a tool to track cases across the state.

"Working with Governor Cuomo and the State Health Department, we are launching today a SUNY-wide data dashboard where parents, the public and students can go on to our website to see all the information going on across SUNY - how many positive cases there are, how many tests were given, how many people are in isolation or quarantine, how many quarantine rooms are available, or by each of our individual campuses..." he said.

Both Brown and Peoples-Stokes applauded the efforts taken by SUNY to mitigate concerns about the virus spreading around state campuses.

"We are very pleased to have these additional tools in the toolbox to keep the students safe and to keep our community safe," said Brown.

As of Friday, UB confirmed 78 positive COVID-19 cases, 40 of which are on campus.